2018-08-23 / Front Page

Residents unanimous: remove sign

OK’d by ZA Cypher
By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff


TOWNSHIP RESIDENT Charles Patton, left, speaks to the more than 50 people who attended Tuesday’s meeting of the Glen Arbor Township Board. The group protested installation of a new sign at the township hall which they say violates the sign ordinance and doesn’t fit the character of the community. TOWNSHIP RESIDENT Charles Patton, left, speaks to the more than 50 people who attended Tuesday’s meeting of the Glen Arbor Township Board. The group protested installation of a new sign at the township hall which they say violates the sign ordinance and doesn’t fit the character of the community. Glen Arbor Township violated its own sign ordinance by placing an “oversized” lit sign in front of the Township Hall, residents came out en masse to say.

More than two dozen of them spoke during public comment Tuesday night at the Township Board’s monthly meeting, which was relocated to the upper level of the hall in anticipation of a big crowd.

There were more than 50 people who showed up for a meeting that only had three items on the agenda — the sign, which illuminated various messages outside, fire rings, and an audit report.

“Not only is the design ugly, but it violates the zoning ordinance in may ways,” said Dan Semple, an engineer, who also previously served on the township Zoning Board of Appeals. “It’s significantly larger than what’s allowed and the illumination is not supposed to be seen off of the property.”


SOME 120 signatures were gathered from those who protest the sign installed last month in front of the Glen Arbor townhall. SOME 120 signatures were gathered from those who protest the sign installed last month in front of the Glen Arbor townhall. Township Supervisor Peter VanNort began the meeting with a list of facts he believes were relevant to the discussion.

He explained that talk began three years ago of replacing the old, yellow, mobile sign that was updated by hand with community announcements for special events.

Prior to VanNort’s election as supervisor, the previous Township Board began an internal look into sign options. The discussion continued when the new board was seated.

In December of last year the Township Board voted unanimously to purchase a sign for up to $26,000. The sign would allow community groups to post messages on a rolling screen, and those groups were asked to contribute funds toward the purchase.

“There are at least 135 events and the sign would allow each of them to be posted,” VanNort said. “There are infinite capabilities …If you imagine something, this sign can do it.”

But there wasn’t much interest in using the sign for public events.

“If I put that sign in front of my business it would be taken down,” township resident Frank Siepker said. “Did you review your ordinance to see if it complies?

VanNort said township zoning administrator Tim Cypher “judged that it meets the ordinance requirements.”

An email seeking clarification sent by the Enterprise to Cypher, who recently has not returned phone inquires from the Enterprise, was likewise not answered.

Township resident Charles Patton, who requested the sign issue be placed on the agenda, presented the board with a petition signed by 120 people who “disapprove” of the sign and question its design, size and cost to the community.

“An infection has started in Glen Arbor, and we do not want it to see it become an epidemic,” he said, adding that several people refused to sign the petition fearing retaliation. “Now is the time to rethink, resolve, and repair.”

Many questioned how the township can install a sign that they say violates township requirements for lighting and exceeds the sign ordinance’s requirements for governmental organizations that include “not to exceed” 4 feet in height and 16 square feet in area.

The electronic portion of the sign is 3 feet high and 8 feet in length. The decorative portion of the sign atop of the electronic board is also 8 feet long but varies from 2 1/2 to 3 feet in height.

The total height of the two signs is 8 feet, VanNort said.

Audience members said they feared that the oversized sign would be precedent setting.

Regardless, township residents in attendance weren’t interested in keeping it, comparing the sign to something seen in Las Vegas, at Dollywood or Wisconsin Dells.

While postings do not flash, they scroll messages on the screen.

“That sign could have gone in front of Walmart,” Gail Webster said.

Loss of the “culture and character” of the community was front and center for many who spoke.

“Glen Arbor and the township hall are special places. We don’t need an LED sign to tell us that,” Sharon Doyle said. “We’re passion about it. We’re concerned that we have lost something that we’d like to get back.”

Several who spoke questioned whether local artists were consulted on the sign design and suggested that this input would be helpful to come up with an alternative to the sign, installed last month.

“You should remove the sign. It’s an eyesore,” resident Dennis Hays said. “It won’t be a waste of money if you pull it out.”

It was also suggested that the electronic portion of the sign could be sold to recoup some of the money already spent.

VanNort said the board will take the comments made Tuesday night under advisement.

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As with the 4000+ sq. ft.

As with the 4000+ sq. ft. Dietzel warehouse (7107 S.Dune Hwy), perhaps the Planning Commission will just change the Zoning Ordinance after the fact so that the sign will comply ????!!!!